So where do most career web sites live? Well, for the most part, they all live inside a corporate house. A playground inside the safe, secure walls of the corporate global architecture. Sometimes referred to as inside the "C" clamp. Ouch. That kinda hurts saying that. Sounds a bit medieval. The term C clamp refers to the area that is usually made up of the top global corporate navigation bar, the left hand sub navigation bar, and the footer at the bottom - thus the shape makes a C. The area inside these navigation sections is the content playground for the careers site. Or shall we say the careers section.
But when should and when shouldn't the career site live within the corporate clamp? Let's start with the objectives and the audience of most corporate websites. For the most part, their objectives are geared towards the business market as a whole. They have many target users, from customers to investors and, yes, new potential candidates as well. In some cases, the site is a crucial part of business transactions via e-commerce.
The corporate site's basic architecture and information design is built for these multiple audiences. The global navigation scheme is usually topical. You know About Us, Our Products, Careers, etc. Those sections on the global navigation have their own individual navigation scheme. That navigation appears and reacts consistently throughout the entire site. The site experience is holistic and consistent within the corporate global navigation, whether you're in the careers section or the products and services section.
However, many companies that have two co-existing brands, (the corporate brand and the employer brand), may have conflicting attributes that a holistic site cannot address.
There are many situations in which the employment proposition is hard to align with the corporate brand. The features and tone of the career section may need to be very different than the tone sent to the corporate audience base. For example, say you're a major technology brand that promises to their customer base to make the Internet extremely easy to use, easy to understand, friendly and accessible. Now try selling that to the hotshot engineers you're looking for who want to work on bleeding-edge, challenging, exciting, fast-paced and progressive technology. Or another situation may be that the dynamic energy of the culture needs to be demonstrated in ways that would not be appropriate for the general corporate site audience. Here lies the paradox.
What usually happens is a carefully planned out microsite approach to the career section in which the career section's navigation becomes the dominant global navigation scheme with a link back to corporate. In fact, sometimes the global search field conflicts with the job search field. The target candidate is trying to answer some very basic questions such as: Why should I work here? Show me the jobs/Where do I fit? Where are the jobs? What's it like to work here? Instant relevancy.
Here are some checkpoints that may help identify whether or not to consider a career site vs. a career section. First, evaluate the objectives and goals:
- Evaluate the business goals. How is the talent acquisition strategy going to be benchmarked against it? Quantity of hires, or quality of hires? Quality of talent pool?
- Evaluate your digital strategy against these goals. How integrated is it to all offline media that drives to it? Does the site need to be a standalone with its own memorable URL?
- Evaluate your career site objectives. What are you trying to achieve, and for whom specifically? How are you going to benchmark for success? The quality of the profile database or quantity of resumes?
Then evaluate more specifics to the site information architecture:
- Do the features and content of your career section need to be more robust and detailed towards the working culture than the general "About us" section on the global corporate nav?
- Will the global site search conflict with the job search?
- Is there an abundance of irrelevant navigation options on the global nav that a job seeker does not need? (If I were looking for a job, why would I need a link to buy parts for my car?)
- Is your applicant tracking system going to have a major role in customizing the job seeker's experience based upon their profile?
- Does your offline employment campaign that is driving to the career site have different attributes than the corporate online brand?
These are some of the questions to look into when developing your strategy.